AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Three parents who serve as community advocates and mentors all came together with one goal in mind: stopping the violence in schools.
Jamilah Dukes, owner of The S.o.u.l Market, organized Community Cafe, a forum she hopes will bring people together from various districts in the Augusta area who will bring the change needed to end violence in schools. She will be joined by the owner of Purpose Center, Devron Mitchell, who is also a community advocate and mentor. He is opening the doors to his establishment to ensure that change happens. They will also be joined by long time, Richmond County educator and mental health advocate Dr. Onnie Poe.
The event takes place Monday, August 21st, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. It will be held at Purpose Center, located at 1650 Olive Road, Augusta.
“I see people in small pockets around the city having conversation and I said, you know what, let me pull everybody together in one place to create a solution,” Dukes said.
We’ve heard from the sheriff, school superintendent, district attorney and mayor after last Wednesday’s shooting at T.W. Josey High School. Now, the public has a chance to weigh in on the school violence that keeps happening in the CSRA.
“To see that we are only two weeks into school and they are having the kind of issues that we’re having in our community with our kids is letting me know that the problem is deeper than school,” said Dukes. “It’s a community issue at this point.”
Dukes is a mother and told us she organizes events for Richmond County kids all the time. So, she called up her fellow mentors and community advocates who are also parents to put together Community Café, a forum intended to bring local voices together to ignite change through solutions.
“It’s been deep rooted issues and behavioral issues and problems that seem to be, not necessarily ignored, but not given the attention that it deserves,” Poe said.
Onnie Poe has spent that last 16 years as an educator in Richmond County Schools, including at Josey. She said the problem is not new, but preventative measures are needed.
“When we start seeing behaviors, that’s just a spoken language,” she explained. “It’s a language that’s not in words. It’s a language that I need help, I need support.”
“I’m willing to put my life on the line for the sake of my community,” Mitchell said.
Using positive role models such as the local DA, Devron Mitchell runs the Purpose Center to help uplift Augusta kids. He will open those doors again to the public Monday night at 7:30. The group hopes to connect people with their commissioners, school board leaders and brainstorm ways people from all districts can roll up their sleeves and help, something Mayor Garnett Johnson called the community to do last week.
“I grew up in an environment with drug dealing. My daddy was a drug dealer. So I understand growing up in a household where the environment is not necessarily conducive to success. However, even though I grew up in that environment myself, I’m not a felon. I’ve never been to jail,” Mitchell said.